Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail
- Site Contact: (540) 953-3563, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Site Access: Free, Daily
Site MED08: Glen Alton
Elevation: 2563 ft. Recently acquired by the U.S. Forest Service, Glen Alton is a 304-acre estate that offers diverse habitats. Walk along trails that meander through wetlands, riparian woodlands, hardwood forests, open meadows, pond habitats, and coniferous stands. This site is unique in that birds typical of higher elevations can be found among these lower elevation woods. The average elevation of this site is around 2400 feet, but black-throated blue warbler, veery, scarlet tanager and even Blackburnian warbler have been found within the confines of this site during breeding season. Though some trails are still in the process of being developed, many trails are already in place, and well traveled. Northern parula, red-eyed vireo, and pileated woodpecker call from the woodlands. Green heron and belted kingfisher survey ponds as the numerous barn swallows circle above. Wood duck breed in these woodland ponds, and in fall and winter, are joined by bufflehead and great blue heron. Common yellowthroat can be heard in weedy marsh edges. Open meadows dance with blooming wildflowers in the spring and summer, attracting color butterflies such as harvester, eastern tiger swallowtail, spring/summer and Appalachian azures, American snout, red admiral, and even Diana fritillary. Appalachian brown and common wood-nymph skirt the woodland edges. Bright dragonflies such as slaty and widow skimmers, common green darner, and calico pennant patrol ponds. Tall grasses and logs that line pond banks serve as perches for damselflies such as blue-fronted dancer, Rambur's forktail, familiar bluet, and the dazzling elegant spreadwings. Mammalian denizens of this area include beaver, woodchuck, red fox, coyote, and red bat. Though this area has recently been acquired, it has quickly become an interest to local birders and nature enthusiasts.
From the War Spur Trail, continue north on Rt. 613 for 5.0 miles to Rt. 635. Turn left and go 2.6 miles to Rt. 722/Glen Alton Road. Turn left onto Rt. 722/Glen Alton Road and proceed 0.1 miles, crossing the bridge; turn right and travel an additional 0.4 miles to the parking lot.